Iannetta demonstrating full development

Iannetta demonstrating full development

Iannetta demonstrating full development
DENVER -- The Rockies went into the season anticipating catcher Chris Iannetta's biggest contributions would come from behind the plate, not at the plate.

His stellar work with the pitching staff has kept the club happy with the decision to depend on him to carry the bulk of the catching load, but there's little to complain about given the way he has shown up offensively.

Iannetta's .219 average is deceptive, with five of his seven hits going for extra bases -- including Friday's three-run triple -- and his .444 on-base percentage is outstanding, reflecting his patience in drawing 11 walks in 11 games. Only Troy Tulowitzki has more, with 14, but four of his are intentional.

"I came in as relaxed as possible," Iannetta said of his new approach in his sixth big league season. "I knew I was going to play. They made that pretty evident. I wanted to get my work in at Spring Training. I had goals of where I wanted to be and the work I wanted to get done that given day, and I used it as a progression instead of trying to get instant results and trying to win a job early."

Far more important, however, is what he has accomplished in working with the pitching staff, as it has established an 11-2 record through the season's first two weeks. His 2.81 catcher's ERA is the lowest in the league, and his calling of Jhoulys Chacin's complete-game shutout Friday exemplifies the confidence the pitchers have in throwing to Iannetta.

"I really trust him," Chacin said after only shaking off a few of 114 signals from Iannetta on Friday. "He's been doing a pretty good job with the pitchers. I just went with him. Whatever he called me, I threw it."

Iannetta is about as grounded as he's ever been, and his self-confidence has been an important foundation in the Rockies' early success. Like many on the team, he is not impressed with the 11-2 record, but rather is focused on how the team can improve from game to game.

"We've had to battle a lot," Iannetta said of his pitching staff. "The credit to the staff that I'd like to give is they've been in situations where they could give up four or five, six runs in an inning, and they've limited it to one or two, and that's given our offense a chance to manufacture runs and a chance to get back in games.

"They're still evolving, they're still working, and they're going to get better."

By all counts, Iannetta's determined efforts at stepping up his own game are paying dividends. He is evolving into a team leader, and he is within eight games of surpassing Jeff Reed in leading the team in games caught, a position where the Rockies have never had a long-term dominant starter.

"Chris has taken the defensive side of his game to another level," manager Jim Tracy said. "Not to say that he wasn't passionate about it before, but I think [it's] the intensity level, with which he's doing his homework, and he's making in-game adjustments, he's recognizing swings in relation to a game plan we put together.

"It may necessitate an adjustment in the middle of an at-bat or the middle of a game, he's just completely on top of everything that's going on back there."